Choosing the Server Hardware…

My first server was a PowerEdge 600sc that I bought in 2003. At the time Dell was very free with coupons and the total cost was about $270. It came with a 128MB of registered ECC RAM and a 40GB hard disk and a P4- 2.4GHz. I liked the fact that the Dell had a ServerWorks chipset, but unfortunately there was no hardware RAID at that price. There was, however, six IDE ports so a software raid was possible.

I had an MSDN membership which included a license for Windows Server 2003. I configured the server as a Domain Controller.

The 600sc served me well until late 2011 when I finally decided to upgrade. The 600sc was still working but it had become quite loud and instead of repairing it I decided to replace it with its 2011 equivalent, the PowerEdge T110 II. The total cost of the T110 II was about $350 and after shipping and tax still came in under $400. It was configured with 2GB of DDR3 133MHz UDIMMs, an HE253GJ 250GB hard disk and a Xeon E3-1230 3.20 GHz. The E3-1230 is a hyper-threaded quad core so quite a step up from the P4-2.4GHz. There is also a rudimentary built-in RAID, a PERC S100, that would work fine for mirroring the boot drive so I picked up another Samsung HE253GJ for $65 on eBay. For the data drive I installed a Western Digital green 2 TB drive. I also added a Gigaware® 2-Port USB 3.0 PCIe Card and a USB Fax Modem.

I still had an MSDN membership so I went with Windows Server 2008. I did an upgrade and not a clean install so I continued to configure the server as a Domain Controller.

Windows Server 2008 worked fine until I purchased a USB 3.0 3TB external drive for bare metal backups in 2013. I discovered at this point that Windows Server 2008 did not support drives larger than 2TB with 4k sector size but Windows Server 2012 did.

I continued to have an MSDN membership so the server OS of choice became Windows Server 2012r2. I decided to do a clean install when I went to Windows Server 2012r2 and took the opportunity to move away from the Domain Controller and go with a Workgroup. I tested out the bare metal backup using Windows Server Backup and it worked as expected with the caveat that I needed to have the PERC S100 driver available for the re-installation of the server.

The T110 II took the upgrade to Windows Server 2012r2 without a hitch except for the USB Fax Modem. I could receive faxes but could not send them which was a problem since I only needed the Fax Modem it to send faxes. To receive faxes I had a free online account at eFax. The error was that the line was always busy even when it wasn’t. I tried a number of fixes including the fxst30.dll repair and nothing seemed to work so I replaced the USB Fax Modem with a PCIe Fax Modem which fixed the problem.

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